The advent of the personal computer has revolutionized the way people work, live, connect with each other, and how they spend their time and money.  However, as the popularity of the computer has increased, the threats to them have also increased.  These threats include viruses.  Viruses endanger the personal information of people and the proprietary information of businesses.  The following paper will give an introduction and overview of viruses.  It will also discuss ways to prevent viruses and how to remove them if one’s computer ever becomes infected.  Finally, there will be a discussion of what I found in Windows help and Support.

Introduction to Computer Viruses

            According to Vermaat (2015, p. 23), “Malware, short for malicious software, is software that acts without a user’s knowledge and deliberately alters the computer’s and mobile device’s operations.”  Malware includes many different things.  Some examples include worms, trojan horses, adware, spyware, and viruses (Vermaat, 2015, p.23).  As described by Vermaat (2015, p. 180), “A computer virus is a potentially damaging computer program that affects, or infects, a computer negatively by altering the way the computer works without the user’s knowledge or permission.”  A computer virus acts in a similar manner as biological viruses (Spector, 2013, p. 184).  Computer viruses infect and spread to files that already exist on one’s computer and, similarly, biological viruses spread and infect living cells (Spector, 2013, p. 184).

Viruses are mostly spread by people using infected programs or apps (Vermaat, 2015, p. 180).  An extremely common way that computers become infected with viruses is through email (Vermaat, 2015, p. 205).  The virus author puts the virus in an attachment and then sends an email with the attachment to thousands of users (Vermaat, 2015, p. 205).  Once an unsuspecting person opens the email attachment, their computer becomes infected with the virus (Vermaat, 2015, p. 205).  The internet allows viruses to spread very quickly and easily.

Most viruses have two phases: the infection phase and delivery phase (Vermaat, 2015, p. 180).  During the infection phase, the virus replicates itself to a file and once the affected program or app is opened, the computer becomes infected (Vermaat, 2015, p. 180).  Viruses hide to avoid being detected and activate themselves once a certain condition or event is met.  Once the delivery phase is activated, the virus delivers its payload (Vermaat, 2015, p. 180).  The payload could consist of a message or the deletion of files and data (Vermaat, 2015, p. 180).  Some viruses simply modify files in the background so that they do not become detected (Vermaat, 2015, p. 180).  Viruses pose a serious threat to the public’s private and personal information.

Computer Virus Prevention

            There are many ways computers can be prevented from viruses. But we have to keep in mind that these preventions may become obsolete with the passing time as the people who consider infecting other’s computer with viruses as a profitable business work hard to find ways to bypass these preventive measures. Microsoft office online support has useful information about preventing computers from viruses (How to prevent and remove viruses, 2016). Microsoft has advised all windows users to keep their windows up to date from Microsoft updates to prevent windows from being corrupted. Microsoft keeps track of all the viruses designed to attack their operating system’s security and whenever they identify such a risk, they develop preventive measures that are downloaded from their updates. Microsoft has strongly advised to install Microsoft Security Essentials or Windows Defender. This is a free program that helps in prevention and removal or viruses if prevention did not work.

From our personal experience, we would like to point out the importance of not installing just any free software that is available online. We have had several problems with such software which were not from verified developers. These software may contain malicious programs that could in fact your windows operating systems. For example Trojans are designed to appear just like normal software (Thimbleby, Anderson, & Cairns, 1998) but once they are able to deceive the Windows defender and other antiviruses, they are activated and could harm the windows and other applications.

Computer Virus Removal

This is the stage that comes into action once the windows defenders and other antivirus software have failed and the viruses have entered your computer. This is where we need to be able to remove the virus from the computer systems to stop it from harming the computer systems. There are many antivirus software available in the market. The following four steps can help in both prevention and removal of computer viruses (“Four steps to protect your computer (Windows),”).

  1. Check for Windows and Application Updates: I have earlier discussed this point in detail. All applications and Windows operating system must be up to help fight viruses.
  2. Activate Internet Firewall: Windows Security Center, Norton Firewall, McAfee Firewall etc. offer antivirus solutions that are best in prevention.
  3. Install and Update Antivirus Software: Norton, McAfee and other antivirus programs must be installed and kept up to date.
  4. Regularly run Antivirus on Entire Computer: I would personally suggest to run an entire computer scan weekly.

Discussion

We definitely had to make several decisions when we were looking for help in regards to defending a system running on Windows operating system. First is the fact that there is an issue of authenticity about information related to an application from a specific developer. In our case we referred to Microsoft windows website. But then there is an issue of better explanation and third party antivirus software. Microsoft would never suggest the name of a helpful antivirus tool. So, as a Windows user, we had to do a deep research and get help from other authentic websites as well which was really helpful.